WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court ruled against the latest version of President Donald Trump’s travel ban on Thursday, holding that it “continues to exhibit a primarily religious anti-Muslim objective.”
The 9-4 ruling from the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals comes after the Supreme Court agreed to take up a separate challenge to the President’s proclamation, issued last September.
Because that case is pending before the justices, the latest ruling from the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals will not change the current status quo. For now, the Supreme Court has allowed the third iteration of the travel ban to go fully into effect pending the resolution of the issue by late June.
In Thursday’s opinion, the appeals court held that immigrant rights groups represented by the ACLU and the National Immigration Law Center “will likely succeed on the merits of their Establishment Clause claim.”
“President Trump’s third illegal attempt to denigrate and discriminate against Muslims through an immigration ban has failed in court yet again,” said the ACLU’s deputy legal director Cecillia Wang. “The Constitution prohibits government actions hostile to religion.”
The revised ban places varying levels of restrictions on foreign nationals from eight countries: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Somalia and Yemen.
The appeals court called Trump’s proclamation an “invisible yet impenetrable” barrier that “denies the possibility of a complete, intact family to tens of thousands of Americans.”
“On an economic level, the Proclamation inhibits the normal flow of information, ideas, resources, and talent between the Designated Countries and our schools, hospitals, and businesses, ” the court said. “On a fundamental level, the Proclamation second-guesses our nation’s dedication to religious freedom and tolerance.”